And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19-20
The Apostle Paul in my estimation was one of the bravest defenders of the faith with phenomenal courage and impeachable integrity. Once known as the chief persecutor of the church, after his conversion he poured all of that energy and conviction into his fight for Christianity. He was relentless in his quest to tell all of mankind about their need for a Saviour, even in the face of persecution. He passionately proclaimed, ‘For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). He viewed the things he suffered as a means of causing the gospel to spread even more (Phil 1:12) and to have made others in ministry more confident to proclaim the Word of God boldly.
It does then seem strange to find a verse in the book of Ephesians; a letter written by Paul to the church in Ephesus, where he is asking that boldness be given to him so that he could proclaim the mystery of the gospel. The question would be, ‘Boldness? Paul?’ The answer would be yes, Paul. He recognized that it was a process and that the work was great and he needed God’s empowerment in his life to do the work that God had called him to. You will see that he did not just ask to be made bold, but that he also recognized that there was a standard and he was aspiring to reach it. He said, ‘that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak’. Obviously as bold as we view him to have been, to Paul, he still had to reach the level that God required. Once we have achieved the smallest measure of success in ministry, it is easy for us to puff out our chest and strut around with pride. However we need to examine ourselves before the Lord to see if our work is of the standard required of us by the Lord. Paul’s boldness was highlighted and increased in the face of persecution, what will it take to make you and I to become who God wants us to be in Him?
Many of Paul’s letters to the churches were written from prison. He could have become broken and silenced from proclaiming and teaching the gospel. He could have decided that it was not worth it to endure such affliction for this man called Christ and the gospel. Instead he declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes”(Rom 1:16). On another occasion he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice” (Phil 4:4). Prison did not break his spirit. It did not, and could not silence his voice for the cause of Christ. He was a man who recognized just what Christ had done for him on the cross of Calvary. Being fully aware of who and what he was before he encountered Christ, Paul had a deep rooted appreciation for his Saviour’s love for him, and the forgiveness he received from Him when he met Him on the Damascus road (But by the grace of God, I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: 1Cor.15:10). He understood what his fate would have been if he had rejected Christ. He understood what it meant for others who were rejecting him still, and so he earnestly tried to bring them to a saving knowledge of the Saviour who died for them (Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2Cor. 5:11a). How much do we appreciate Christ’s love and forgiveness? Do we fully recognize the fate He saved us from? How earnest are we in ensuring that others today are saved from that fate too? The persecution of Paul and the other Apostles took place in Bible times but the persecution of believers for their fate did not begin or end in their particular era of time. Hundreds of years before, the prophet Daniel had his battles and faced death in the lions’ den, so did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. As centuries passed, the level of persecution has escalated and continues even today. In major countries around the world, Christians are suffering for their faith in Christ. Many of them die daily because they refuse to renounce their faith. The amazing thing is, just as it did in the days of Paul, the church of Christ still continues to grow.
The light of the gospel will never be put out in this world. Satan has and will continue to wage his war against the kingdom of God, but he will not be victorious. As believers and students of the Word, we should know how the story ends. The book of Revelations, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ, tells us what is in store for Satan (Rev.20), as well as for us as believers (Rev. 21:1-7). Satan’s fate is to be thrown into the lake of fire forever, and ours is to dwell with the Lord. We then as believers should be encouraged to stand up for the cause of Christ because we know that in the end, we will have the victory and nothing that we suffer in this life, will be able to diminish the reward we will receive in glory.